The Toronto District School Board has approved spending almost $6 million to hire additional staff to support the mental health and well-being of students.
During a special board meeting, trustees unanimously approved the hiring of 106 staff members – 16 of which will be social workers to help students deal with the impact of the ongoing pandemic.
The expenditure comes in the wake of a report released earlier this week that highlighted the impact the pandemic is having on the mental health and well-being of students.
The survey of almost 25,000 students found that while things have improved over last year, since September five in 10 students say they feel worried or nervous all the time while six in 10 say they feel under a lot of stress or pressure all the time. Students in higher grades were more likely to report feeling nervous, worried or stressed.
The report also found that while the number of suspensions are down overall when compared to 2018 and 2019 – likely due to COVID-19 interruptions and the lack of in-person learning – there has been a noticeable increase in the conflicts between students in Kindergarten up to Grade 12. The number of incidents requiring 20 day suspensions (27) is considerably higher when compared to the same periods in 2018 and 2019.
“This is one of the largest increases in funding for mental health and well-being at the TDSB in years,” said TDSB chair Alexander Brown, who noted that while the expenditure is for the current school year, they are hoping to continue the additional supports into 2022-2023.
“Now, more than ever, our students need additional supports as we continue to move through the pandemic.”